Picture this horrible situation: your guitar gets broken, and you cannot repair it.
I’m painfully sorry for mentioning such a tremendous situation, but it is something that has happened many times before.
Now, imagine that you have saved enough money for buying another guitar exactly like the one you have lost some months ago.
You go to the store, select the same brand, the same model, buy the instrument, and return home excited to go back into a world of chords and shreds.
However, you notice there is a significant change in sound.
Your brand new guitar doesn’t sound like the older one.
It is strange because both guitars were identical… weren’t they?
Two identical guitars never sound the same. Lots of factors are involved in the final results, including external factors (weather), manufacturing, and setting preferences. The way one plays will also change how a guitar sounds, even if it’s the same instrument.
To know all the factors that make each guitar unique, keep on reading this article!
Differences in materials between seemingly identical guitars
For the most part, guitars are made out of wood.
Of course, such wood is taken out from trees, and here’s where it gets trickier.
Two guitars of the same model may look the same, but the wood used for their construction comes from different trees.
It is interesting to think that even guitars made with the same tree incorporate different parts from such a tree, or different parts of the same slabs.
What is more, other components of a guitar (such as pickup winding) differ from one guitar and another, especially if made by hand.
Guitar’s wood plays an important role in the sound a guitar produces.
Depending on the type of wood that is being used, a guitar will sound either one way or another.
Differences in construction between seemingly identical guitars
As I mentioned before, the fact that a part of a guitar is made by hand makes each instrument unique.
One thing is producing something in mass with a machine. Another is when such products get done by human beings.
The second option will present certain details in its construction that will vary on every instrument.
There might be differences in the finishes, for example. For some guitars, the quality of the finish could be better or worse.
Therefore, a luthier will never construct the same guitar twice.
Such details might look subtle, and in part they are.
However, they differentiate two guitars that originally looked equal.
Differences in external factors that affect seemingly identical guitars
Outside circumstances have a pivotal role in your guitar.
If you have two guitars of the same mark and model, but store them in different places, then the sound and feel will be affected.
For instance, humidity could make your guitar sound dull.
On the other hand, if the instrument’s stored in a dry environment, then the sound could become brittle and bright.
If a guitar is taken out too much, it will be affected regarding one that is kept solely at home.
After all, hot weather and rain could damage certain aspects of your instrument, whereas one that never leaves home will most probably stay the same.
Differences in setup between seemingly identical guitars
Setting a guitar properly is, sometimes, as important as having it in the right tuning.
What is a proper setup, you may ask?
Well, depends on the player’s taste and the band’s genre.
What’s important here, though, is that the way a guitar is set can make its sound distinct.
It is not the same to have the bass at level 3 as at level 8.
High gain and low gain are not alike.
Little to no distortion at all is different from plenty of it.
On top of that, you can make dozens of combinations with such setups, and results will always be different.
What is more, new sounds can be obtained with an identical guitar if one alters its sounds with pedals and effects.
Differences in the players between seemingly identical guitars
In the end, it is not the instrument that plays a major role in the sound of a guitar, but the player itself.
The ability and the level of each musician will drastically affect the final result.
Imagine the following.
There’s one guitar within a rehearsal room.
Suddenly, two guitar players enter and take turns with that guitar.
The setting remains the same for both. Same rules for volume.
Now, the first player is a rookie, and he barely plays a G chord properly.
Then, the second one takes it and plays such a terrific solo that it seems that the guitar is about to be set on fire.
The second guitarist is a professional player.
Same volume, same settings, same instrument, but two different worlds of sound.
The proficiency level is not the only factor that interferes with the sound of a guitar.
Even if the two guitarists are experts, both are two different persons, which means that their style and technique are not equal.
How one plays is, on the most part, more important than what one plays.
Therefore, even if two musicians play with the same guitar, the results won’t be the same.
All in all, it is possible to find various guitars that are consistently similar, but never identical.
There are plenty of factors that interfere.
Inner factors, such as electronics and circuits.
External factors, such as weather.
Manufacturing factors, like the material used for its construction, and the person who built them.
If a guitar is the sum of its parts, then it is no wonder why so many factors are involved in the sound and the feel of a guitar.
It is worth taking into account that this is not a bad thing at all.
If anything, it makes each guitar special.
To have a special guitar that you won’t find any other place can be an opportunity for finding a sound you won’t create any other way.
Those are the details that make the world of music so interesting and rich.
Next time you buy another exact guitar and find out it doesn’t sound the same, don’t lose hope! It can turn out to be better than expected.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.